On the back wall of the No Name Bar in Sausalito, Calif., crowded among pennants of the Giants and 49ers, the legendary teams on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge, there is a poster that the bar printed for its 50th anniversary, six years ago. The poster says: “No Cover. No Plastic. No Pretense.” And whoever made it might as well have added, “No tourists.”
Up and down the Bridgeway, not far from the houseboats that so many tourists come to see, there are ice cream shops, pizza joints, galleries for hotel-room-quality art and T-shirt shops. There is Soxalito, where I bought some great puppy-themed novelty socks. And there are tourists, day-trippers from San Francisco, or from farther away still, who come for the views of Richardson Bay and places to buy souvenirs or eat.
But most of them don’t come for a drink at 3 in the afternoon, not on this cool spring day, and I doubt that I could entice them to join me, even if I told them that in the very booth where I was sitting, underneath the flat-screen TV showing the Formula One race, Evan S. Connell used to sit, beautiful in his bomber jacket, sipping his drinks, dreaming of literary success.
After all, who was Evan Connell? Some postwar novelists, like John Updike and Philip Roth, became famous young and stayed that way. Others, like Richard Yates, the author of “Revolutionary Road,” and Leonard Michaels, the author of “The Men’s Club,” have had posthumous revivals, as filmed versions of their books, or omnibus collections brought out by their publishers, have given them new visibility.
Image courtesy of New York Times